Thursday, September 29, 2011

Creme 21 Youngtimer Rally

Translation of stories for an automotive-themed website is... occasionally... more than just the way paying my rent.

When I saw the headline... also used for this post... I was immediately struck by how baffling this would be for visitors to the English language site. And also what fun language can be and how cultural references which are immediately meaningful in a particular country can make no sense at all in another.

In this case the German text reported on a gathering of fans whose affection is for cars which are not quite old enough to qualify officially as classics...

Anyway, I felt inspired to add the introduction which follows...


There are times when a post on these pages calls for a measure of ‘cultural orientation’. Few English speakers will immediately comprehend the headline of this story, except that it must concern a rally event. And presumably ‘Creme 21’ is some kind of sponsor? Sorry, no.

What about ‘youngtimer’, then? Disambiguation demands that we first consider the term ‘old-timer’ (yes, hyphenated) which Wikis suggests connotes “a veteran, an elderly person”. Such an old-timer is this writer, whose task and pleasure it is to translate the texts written by much younger colleagues at which is the German language website.

But for reasons which escape me the word ‘oldtimer’ (un-hyphenated) has been adopted by the Germans and Dutch to refer to what we would call in English ‘classic cars’, the elderly and honourable veterans of the road. Thus with the ‘oldtimer’ accepted and widely understood was a small leap to invent the term ‘youngtimer’ (which of course does not exist in English) to cars which are not quite old enough to be automotive antiques but have the merits to be seen as ‘future classics’ as the years pass, memorable models from the seventies and eighties.

Now you begin to get the picture of what a youngtimer rally is all about.

Now… what about that sponsor? Well, not really a sponsor, since the brand of body care products, at the time a competitor with Nivea, ceased production in 1986. But ‘Creme 21’ is unforgotten.

The attitude around Creme 21 and in the seventies was very exceptional: a combination of light-heartedness combined with a special understanding of fashion and lifestyle! We remember the tie-dyed tee-shirts, the long hair, the bell-bottom pants, psychedelic rugs, disco balls….but also the wild, apple-green Porsche 911 Targa or the distinctive and indestructible Mercedes 8 as well as the Citro├źn CX with its dashboard that looked as if it came straight from a science fiction movie.

21 was the age of official adulthood. Creme 21 was one of the first advertisers to use imagery featuring semi-nudity which today would be deemed Not Safe For Work. And so it is that the organizers of the rally meet for owners and fans of ‘future classic’ cars saw Creme 21 as the perfect expression of a nostalgia for a long gone era and the automobiles which were then so new and wonderful.

On another occasion I would love to explore how it came to pass that the Germans... having adopted the real English word 'Pullover' for the garment in question... continued to invent the pseudo-English word 'Pullunder' for a sleeveless jumper.

1 comment:

Mr.Wilson said...

Loved this one - especially the pullunder part. And you didn't even mention the infamous "Handy"!